Who shot Gulbadin Naib? Jonathan Trott’s happy face, synchronised singles + more in our latest T20 World Cup round-up (an Afghanistan special edition)

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The Afghanistan v Bangladesh match was a limited overs cricket tournament classic. It had all the staples of the genre: three possible winners despite only two teams being involved; chaotic running enhanced further by hapless fielding; frequent confusion over who was actually “winning”; and a slip fielder getting shot in the hamstring.

Who shot Gulbadin Naib?

We can only presume it was the work of one of the now underemployed Nassau police snipers.

With Bangladesh behind the required run rate and rain very much thinking about falling, Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott instructed his players to slow things down.

Little did Trott know but this instruction was entirely unnecessary. Wholly separately, mere nanoseconds later, Gulbadin Naib – who had been standing motionless at slip waiting for the next delivery – crashed to the ground clutching the back of his thigh.

Whether it was the cramp he’d suffered in the previous match or a bullet, Gulbadin was in trouble, but he bounced back in habitual style.

After being helped off the field, he returned and within half an hour he was back bowling well enough to dismiss Tanzim Hasan.

Not long after that, at the fall of the 10th wicket, he won Afghanistan’s celebratory sprint.

It’s hard to quibble with his recovery. That moment when you realised that Australia had been knocked out of the tournament, didn’t you too feel all of your physical ailments momentarily melt away?

Jonathan Trott’s happy face

This was something that struck us after Afghanistan downed Australia. Milling around on the outfield, Jonathan Trott was almost unrecognisably happy in his job.

We mean that literally. Trott’s smile was so broad and irrepressible, he actually kind of looked like a different person.

Needless to say, he was sporting a similar look after his men (who else – it’s Afghanistan) secured their place in the semi finals.

Trott infamously drove himself too hard as a player, so it’s probably no surprise that even at his highest playing moments his emotions never seemed quite so unrestrained as they have been after these two matches.

It’s often tempting to see outright tournament victory as the only real ‘success’ but the bare truth is you don’t really top this, even if the next match or matches are presented and perceived as ‘bigger’.

Synchronised singles

We often say that the great philosophical failing of T20 is this wrong-headed notion that engineering the game so you only see the best batters bat and the best bowlers bowl somehow equates to greater entertainment.

The best against the best is better. This is honestly just the greatest load of cobblers the devil ever sold. Cricket’s greatest strength – its absolute USP – is confusing chaos.

When no-one is 100% sure exactly what is required for victory because of rain reductions, net run rates or whatever – THAT’S GREAT CRICKET.

When tail-enders are the ones who have to somehow find a way of surviving or scoring match-winning runs – THAT’S GREAT CRICKET.

Part-time bowlers – GREAT CRICKET.

Running a bye to the wicketkeeper – GREAT CRICKET.

Overthrows – GREAT, GREAT, GREAT, GREAT CRICKET.

Complete and utter confusion between two batters running between the wickets? PLEASE FILL A GREAT BIG OLD VAT WITH THAT STUFF AND JUST DROWN US IN IT.

Look at this image and tell us this is not a big part of the reason why you love this sport.

What we especially love is the way that this mere snapshot – which could so easily have represented the end of this passage of play – instead foreshadows further delights to come.

Because this next shot here. This heralds an OPPORTUNITY for Afghanistan.

This is an ideal starting position from which to secure overthrows.

If you’re a real connoisseur of this sort of thing, this next image might just be the best.

The sheer latent confusion in that instant – stemming from huge uncertainty that is now rapidly snowballing – means that new avenues of potential craziness are opening up by the nanosecond. You simply cannot predict who will do what from this point on.

Behold the uncanny Borg-like symmetry as both batters simultaneously conclude, “One of us has to go back to that end.”

They stop.

They turn.

A moment later, the most obvious agreement is reached: each batter will make their way to the end they are currently farthest from.

One run.

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14 comments

  1. At which point hundreds of thousands of village cricketers all felt a smug glow of satisfaction that their runout against Little Piddle on the Wold’s third XI wasn’t quite as chaotic as the professional’s effort.

    Genius marketing.

  2. It’s all a blur in my continuing insomnia, but there were so many moments in that match that lead to more animated reactions (by me) than a whole season of animated reactions (by me), from multiple forehead slapping to full blown guffaws. I can’t remember who or when it was now, but Karin Janit (I think) throwing his bat at Rashid Khan (I think) for refusing to take a run in Afghanistan’s last over (I think) was particularly amusing.

    Another night game sadly, or maybe that’s what helps contribute to the insanity somehow, but SA vs AFG is going to be worth a watch. SA have been verging on ridiculous on occasion so all the ingredients are there. At the moment, my two favourite teams. Shame it’s not the final.

    As Mr Webster suggested in another post, I think T20 should only be played by Associate teams.

      1. This is too true. I stand corrected and enlightened.

        Half (meaning all) the fun is when an Associate beats a Full member, particularly an annoying one like Australia.

        …which leads me to correct myself. I was under the impression that Afghanistan was still an Associate member, but it has been Full member since 2017. How ignorant of me!

      2. …and good on Afghanistan for giving us so much entertainment.

        Roll on the next whatever-it-is.

  3. It might be coming to an end soon, but has any cricketer had a more ridiculous international career than Mohammad Nabi? From the ICC World Cricket League Division Five to a World Cup semi final

  4. Ten overs each to constitute a game, unlike the earlier rounds (five a side).

    No reserve day, unlike the first semi-final.

    India go through if there is no result.

    It might be quicker just to give them the trophy now.

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